Missing records hindering probe into Durban Park Project

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By Devina Samaroo

Missing financial records is holding up a special audit into the controversial Durban Park project, according to the Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma.

The Office of the Auditor General had launched a special audit into the project amid concerns of corruption and mismanagement of the State’s resources on the initiative.

Sharma told News Room on Friday that there are no records of transactions prior to the project being handed over to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure (MPI).

“The company that was operating, I am trying to get information, the Permanent Secretary of Public Works [Public Infrastructure] don’t know so I will now have to write the company to get it,” he explained.

When pointed out that the company has been dismantled, Sharma expressed, “that’s the type of problem we’re having.”

A shadowy special purpose company called Homestretch Development Incorporated managed the project and was responsible for the collection of monetary and material donations from the public for the project.

Notably, this company was established in 2016, after works on the project began. Interestingly too, government minister Dr Rupert Roopnarine was a Director of this company and government failed to disclose this to the National Assembly when its members were intensely grilled by the parliamentary opposition.

The Ministry took over the project after the company floundered in the lead up to 50th Independence anniversary celebrations. Some $400M was pumped into the project before the Ministry took over control.

However, the government still went to the Parliament for an additional $500 million to be paid out from the Consolidated Fund to a number of contractors and other persons owed varying amounts for works undertaken on the controversial project.

This money, however, was not enough to pay contractors and government said those who did not get their money can sue the special purpose company.

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson had told the National Assembly that a total of $27.7 million was received in the form of donations from private individuals and entities, while another $37 million came about ‘in kind’.

Since the Durban Park project has been completed, the special purpose company was dismantled. Sharma said he was informed that all information that was in the possession of the company was handed over to the MPI, however, there is no record of these documents thus far.

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